Yes, they can. Or rather, there is nothing that states that they cannot, unless there is something in your contract that makes this a brick and mortar school only. Do read through it. However I am guessing that no such clause exists.
To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.
So what kind of action would be here? Little really, because they did not do anything wrong - arguably. As long as they continue to deliver quality education, that is all that matters.
NOW, a case may be made for negligence and fraud. I say may be. Negligence means a presence of duty, breach of that duty, and damages. The elements of a cause of action for fraud require a material misrepresentation of a fact, knowledge of its falsity, an intent to induce reliance, justifiable reliance by the plaintiff and damages (see Ross v Louise Wise Servs., Inc., 8 NY3d 478, 488 ; Lama Holding Co. v Smith Barney, 88 NY2d 413, 421 ).
To prove negligence, a Judge or Jury would have to be shown that the school was negligent in misleading the students about the type of education they would receive, and they way it would be received. To prove fraud, it would have to be shown that the school knew that they were going to switch, and actively mislead students into believing that this was something else.
The final decision is that of a Judge or Jury. So there may be a case, but it would be weak, since the school may successfully argue in defense that they never specifically stated how the classes would be presented.
Thanks again for not shooting the messenger, in advance.
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